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I smiled when I saw this compilation of mostly familiar artists. In my travels, I have covered ambient music for other sites, and while it’s not my mainstay as a writer, I do enjoy ambient textures in music and find them mostly peaceful and refreshing. The music in this collection seems to inhabit a space between dream pop and ambient music. Modern classical also certainly is wedged in there, and it’s a gorgeous combination.
The music floats and weaves its way effortlessly into your brain like a gentle, meandering stream. It’s serene and uplifting, such as the distant haze of Rhian Sheehan’s wonderful opener, “Solus Ortis”. I’ve reviewed this NZ composer before, and his work never gets old. This song has background noise, which could be waves breaking on the shore. The song gets a bit louder, and it’s like watching the sun emerge from the waves at dawn.
The brilliant Clem Leek collaborates here with Library Tapes on the subdued piano driven “Hebden Bridge”. It’s rather like a magical song emerging from the mists and then catching glimmers of the sun. It’s rather elusive and far too short, as most songs of this type are. It ends all too soon, but your mood is soon buoyed up by Gareth Dickson’s haunting “Friday Night Fever”. It is sun-dappled but slightly somber and only slightly longer than its predecessor. I really like the acoustic guitar work here, just beautiful!
“Darkly Stumbles” describes itself perfectly. This minimalist piece from Michigan’s Green Kingdom (aka Michael Cottone, a graphic designer and sound artist) is stellar, resonating with deeply droning instruments (or programmed to sound like that) and crisply plucked guitar. I also greatly enjoy the bell-like aspects of this tune. The familiar Loscil offers up “Lodge”, which will remind you on some level of Fennesz and Tim Hecker. There is a dreamy, faded quality to this pretty song, almost like viewing a sepia toned photo of happy times from long ago. Olan Mill is UK composer Alex Smalley, who creates twilit soundscapes that pluck you from an overly busy day and calm the mind.
“Imondia” is such a piece, and it has the desired effect. Following that is the pastoral drone of “Let go” from Good Weather for an Airstrike. It is rather majestic, and you can hear echoes of Hammock and Stars of the Lid in the mix. Pianist Jamie P’s “First Journey” has layers of piano and an orchestral backdrop that perfectly suits this composition. Guitarist Kyle McEvoy’s pleasant Hala is a simply constructed instrumental piece, while Erik Levander’s “Tillsäg mig huld” flits closer to classically inflected jazz, a melange of shimmering horns and instrumentation I cannot identify. Interesting, challenging, and quite beautiful! Olga Wojciechowska’s turn comes with the minor key masterpiece, “To Feel Much More Than Now”. It starts off like a far distant dream and slowly approaches, encompassing you with symphonic splendor and rippling piano runs.
“Kaskelot Session Fragments” from ambient drone and soundscaper Tobias Hellkvist is delicately rendered and memorable. At six minutes, it floats quickly by and blends with Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer’s glitchy and unique soundscape entitled “Weaver”. Finally, Christopher Bissonnette closes this compilation with “Small Feathers”, which starts off with disparate sounds and transforms into a lovely acoustic drone, much louder than how it begins.
In summary, this is a collection of varied moods and textures that should suit any fan of ambient music.